Cultural icon Anthony Bourdain was a chef who managed to transcend food and touch hearts wherever he went, introducing Western audiences to the wonderful cuisines and cultures around the world. Bourdain’s tragic suicide shocked fans all over the globe who flocked to the streets as well as the internet in order to pay their respects. As a tribute to the late chef, a critically acclaimed documentary was released recently called Roadrunner which chronicles the journey of Anthony Bourdain.
In an insightful interview with NPR from 2016, Bourdain explained how he always felt like an outsider looking in. He revealed that he had a severe inability to understand what someone meant when they referred to “normal people.” In order to bridge the gap, he decided to study their desires through their food habits like a psychoanalyst.
Bourdain said: “I didn’t know any normal people.. They were abstractions, literally shadowy silhouettes in the dining room of wherever it was I was working at the time… To the extent that I knew or understood normal people’s behaviours, it was to anticipate their immediate desires. Would they be ordering the chicken or the salmon? I usually saw them only at their worst – hungry, drunk, horny, ill-tempered, celebrating good fortune or taking out the bad on their servers.”
While discussing this gap, he also stated that he had learnt about the experiences of other people from cinema: “What they did at home, what it might be like to wake up late on a Sunday morning, make pancakes for a child, watch cartoons, throw a ball around a backyard – these were things I only knew from movies. The human heart was and remains a mystery to me, but I’m learning. I have to.”
Just like Anthony Bourdain had been appreciative of international cuisines, his taste in cinema also proves that he had been an ardent admirer of the beauty of world cinema. Check out the eclectic list of Anthony Bourdain’s favourite films of all time, ranging from French New Wave gems to Hong Kong masterpieces.
Anthony Bourdain picked his 10 favourite films of all time:
- The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Peter Yates – 1973)
- Eyes Without a Face (Georges Franju – 1960)
- The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo – 1966)
- Chungking Express (Wong Kar-wai – 1994)
- Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich – 1955)
- Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (Nagisa Ōshima – 1983)
- Withnail and I (Bruce Robinson – 1987)
- Army of Shadows (Jean-Pierre Melville – 1969)
- House of Games (David Mamet – 1987)
- Sullivan’s Travels (Preston Sturges – 1941)
Bourdain maintained that the works of Wong Kar-wai were among his favourite, claiming that he was the most romantic filmmaker in the world. Although Wong has made several masterpieces on the subject of romance, most notably In the Mood for Love, Bourdain chose his frenzied 1994 classic Chungking Express.
The late chef justified his choice by claiming that the combination of Wong Kar-wai and Christopher Doyle was magical: “I could watch the work of Wong Kar-wai (and the brilliant cinematographer Christopher Doyle) all day long. I don’t have to understand what’s going on . . . I don’t care. Beautiful people, photographed beautifully. His films are the best, most romantic out there.”